How To Ship Your Things From UK To Australia With Doree Bonner

You may or not know but I didn’t move to Sydney intentionally. Back in August 2011,  I left UK for a six month trip around the world and ended up meeting my Australian partner whilst in India. We then moved to Sydney at the end of the trip and it’s taken all this time until now to ship my belongings over.

Why did I wait over five years to move my things from UK to Australia? To be honest, we met so spontaneously, we never really knew where we would end up, but over time, we’ve decided to stay in Sydney permanently.

Also, the idea of finding the right shipping company made me nervous, and I really had absolutely no idea where to start. I tried researching different companies but when they asked how much stuff I had, it was hard to even know where to begin. I had dumped my things in storage years earlier and didn’t even know how much I had or really whether I needed any of it.

I had a big fear it was going to cost me A LOT and I just kept putting it off more and more as time went by. I also heard of horror stories of people’s belongings arriving all smashed and broken from using different companies.

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Here are my top steps on how ship your things from UK to Australia with Doree Bonner.

Step 1 – How to plan how much space you need 

First things first, how much did I actually have to ship over from UK to Sydney?  I basically had what I thought at the time was about 10 boxes full of absolute rubbish – that’s clothes, jewellery paintings etc. Because I had already put my things in storage (in one of these shipping containers above at Curtis Storage), I had an estimate of about 40 cubic feet. When I did my research, I was looking at sending everything in a whole shipping container which is why the costs were quite high (more on that later). Once Doree Bonner said I would be able to share a container the cost went right down. Pheww!!

Step 2 – What can you bring/not bring into Australia?

This was something that bothered me a lot. I knew there were loads of rules about what I could and couldn’t bring into the country and it worried me big time, because if you bring something in and if found, customs could take it off you for good.

Because I had finally got the ball rolling with my shipping, I decided to go back to UK for a holiday (first time in 3 years) to sort out my shipping before it was packed up and sent over to Sydney. During this time, I came to realise I had been spending a lot of money on storing what seemed to be a lot of Primark clothes that I ended up throwing out and a few boxes here or there.

I did however have some real fur coats (passed down generations) which under the list of rules, was not permitted in Australia. I did wonder what if you were wearing a fur coat on the plane? Would they take it off you and put it in the bin? Another worry was shoes. It states, if you send over shoes that are dirty, they can also get rid of them as well. Nothing can have any trace of mud, that goes for prams etc. I didn’t send the fur coats but I took the risk with the shoes. I was also worried about wood. You can’t take any wood untreated. After completing a Fine Art’s degree in Painting, I had some 6 foot tall paintings stretched on canvas that I proudly built. I did however take the risk and just sent them in the hope that my things wouldn’t get searched (more on that later).

To find out exactly what you cannot bring into Australia see this post: what can you bring into Australia?

And if you’re thinking of bringing your car or other vehicle over, I’ve been told it’s very expensive. See here for more information.

Step 3 – What did I actually send over?

This is everything I had shipped over

All in all I had 24 items. There were a couple of boxes of DVDs and books, a few big bags and suitcases of clothes, jewellery and shoes, personal crap that included christening gifts etc and a load of paintings. I took the risk with a few of the items as I stated above but I did think that if I could live without these things for the last five years, then it’s not a huge deal if customs took them off me.

Step 4 – Filling out the paperwork

So the most confusing part of shipping my things over from UK to Sydney was the paperwork. Luckily Doree Bonner had me covered on it with their top notch communications..

I had to fill out the following:

  • An International Quotation Form stating where your things will be picked up from and going to.
  • AQIS form (Australian Quarantine And Inspection Service) – reminds me of the form you fill in on the plane on the way into Australia. AQIS (quarantine) undertake a mandatory inspection and the minimum charge is $165. I had to pay this amount.
  • Import duty/GST – entry is duty/GST free providing the owner has owned and used for 12 months or longer before shipment and the items are for their own ownership and use within their home in Australia, the owner has the right to reside within Australia. This was a bit confusing for me. So customs will do random checks on shipping containers. If they had checked my stuff, I would have had to pay 10% on the total cost of my things. This worried me big time, but luckily I wasn’t checked. I had researched this a lot, and read in many forums that customs are less likely to check your items if you have a shared shipping container. This isn’t a fact, just something I read.
  • Copy of your Australian Visa and passport
  • Marine Insurance. If you don’t get it, you won’t be covered (see below)

Step 5 – Do you really need to get insurance when shipping your stuff?

Insurance was 3% of the total value of your goods. You have to complete a form stating absolutely everything you are sending over and the value of it so the insurance cost can be calculated. I didn’t bother getting it even though there is still a rare risk of something happening to your belongings like the ship sinking etc. I think it’s only worth while if you are shipping an entire home’s worth of stuff over really but it’s totally up to you and to be honest, I was a bit worried over the time before my stuff actually arrived in Australia because I hadn’t invested in this insurance. For peace of mind, it could be worth getting.

Step 6 – How much did it actually cost?

To break it down, this is what it cost me to send over my things:

  • Shipment cost for 40 cubic feet: £353.00. I didn’t have to pay VAT as the destination was outside of EU
  • Administration fee £27.50
  • When my things arrived in Australia: AQIS quarantine fee $165
  • Marine insurance @ 3% of the insured value plus IPT (insurance premium tax) if I had decided to take it

Step 7 – How to get your belongings picked up, packed and shipped

The friendly shipping guys from Doree Bonner packing up everything!

One of the reasons I put off organising my shipping for so long was because in my head I thought you had to take all your things to the shipping company, already packed in some sort of Australian ruled way.

In actual fact, Doree Bonner came to me. Because I was back in England for a few weeks, I organised for the packers to come to pick my stuff up whilst I was there.

A good tip is they wrote on every box what was in it which made things really easy for me to go through when it arrived in Australia. They packed literally every item in paper and protected anything breakable. It didn’t actually take them long, about an hour or so to pack everything up in their van and I signed some papers (they had written everything down on paper so I would know nothing was out of place when it arrived in Sydney) and that was it.

When it arrived in Australia, I opened the boxes to find absolutely everything packed piece by piece. 

Step 8 – How long did it take?

From the moment they picked up my things, it all arrived nearly 4 months later although I think there was a little time delay because it was around Christmas when it arrived.

Step 9 – Did everything arrive in one piece?

Arrived in Australia (I didn’t send over the items I’ve scribbled out in yellow)

I actually couldn’t believe the immaculate condition my belongings arrived in!

For example, I had a six foot drawing that was framed. Now imagine, a six foot piece of thin perspex glass that can easily brake. I had 4 of these framed drawings and three of them smashed so easily over the years. When the guys were packing up my things, I said to them that I should probably take the drawing out of the remaining frame because it was bound to smash on the way over. Incredibly, it didn’t. I have no idea how they managed that! Not one piece of my things were damaged. I honestly couldn’t believe it!

Packing up that big glass drawing!

Would I recommend Doree Bonner shipping company?

In a nutshell, YES, absolutely yes!! Their communications were incredible. They were always in touch with me about everything from dates of pick up to explaining all the forms and best of all, everything arrived in perfect condition. If you are looking to ship you things over to Australia, look no further!! Contact Doree Bonner here.

Hope this post helps any of you looking for a good shipping company!

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